10+ essential Siri tips for productive Macs

Do more with Siri on your Mac...

Apple, Siri, iOS, Mac, macOS, how to, voice assistants, Apple, voice control

I guess most Mac users already use Siri to search the web and solve maths problems, but you can do much more.

Get to Siri fast

You know you can use Command-H to search Spotlight? You can invoke Siri using the same keyboard combination (Command-H), you just need to remember to keep pressing the keys.

  • Command-H (quick): Get Spotlight.
  • Command-H (hold): Summon Siri.

You can use a dedicated key on some Macs, or tap the Siri icon in the Menu bar.

I find the keyboard command fits into my workflow best, as I can keep my fingers on the keyboard and eyes on the screen.

So, now you’ve activated Siri, what can you do with it?

Open an app

You can open an app from within an app by pressing and holding Command-H and saying “Open [App name]”. I think Siri is the easiest way to open any app on any Apple platform.

Send a message/make a call

If you’ve paired your iPhone with your Mac, you can use Siri to quickly send a Message or make a call, so long as the person you wish to contact is in your Contacts book. Just like an iPhone, all you need to do is invoke Siri and ask it to Make a call, send a message or even an email to that person. You’ll be given the chance to check the message first. Or the email.

(Don’t forget, if you pair your Mac with AirPods or use headphones with your computer you’ll easily be able to have a conversation without being overheard.)

Make a reminder

Here’s another Siri talent that’s as useful on a Mac as an iPhone. Invoke Siri and say “Remind me to do [your task] at [set a day/time]”. You can also use Siri to reschedule meetings, add people to them, and more – anything your iPhone does, your Mac does too.

This even extends to location-specific requests, such as “Remind me to get the milk when I leave work,” so long as Siri knows where you work.

Manage your Mac

Siri can handle your System Preferences for you. You can ask it to turn brightness/volume up or down, turn Wi-Fi on or off, get your Mac serial number or open System Preferences.

You can also open individual preferences, such as Energy Saver – just say “Open System Preferences Energy Saver”. Or ask it for your Mac’s serial number.

One more thing: Keychain handles most of my password needs, but sometimes I still need to get to a password – that’s when asking Siri to open Passwords comes in useful.

Find your files

You can root through your Finder if you want, but why not try asking Siri to find specific files? You can ask it to find named files, images of a certain name, files created at a certain time, app-specific named files, items you shared with a named contact and more.

This extends to folders, so you can ask your Mac to show you specific folders, or folders of a related name.

Once you get your search results you can refine them with additional requests, such as “Only in July”, or “File name contains Zorro”, or whatever works. If you use Photos, you can also ask Siri to show you images chosen by places, date and more.

Pin searches to make them faster

You can pin some Siri searches into your Notifications Center.

Why is this useful?

Say you are working on a project and all your files contain a certain word, or are tagged with a tag (you are already using tags, right?), you can run a Siri search for those files, tap the + icon at the top right of the search results, and those results will in future be quickly available in Notification Center with a tap at the top right of the screen.

One more thing: the contents of that search update dynamically, so all your project files will in future be easily available with no need to access the Finder. Unless you want to use Finder, in which case tap the “Open XX results in Finder” option.


Building a PDF? Placing an image in a document? Wanting to merge two documents?

When you are inside one document sometimes it’s a chore to leave the application and search for the item you need.

Why not use Siri? Search for the item and then drag-&-drop the favicon that appears beside the Siri search result into the document you are working on.

This is also useful if you are seeking out items to tag, or to drag into new folders.

PS: Those items can also be copied from inside Siri results, so you can search for an item in Siri, select (them), tap Command-C and paste them somewhere else.

Find your iPhone

Busy office. Lost phone. Ask Siri “Where’s my phone?”. It will tell you where the phone is and make it ping so you can find it.

You can also use Siri to find anyone who you follow using Find My Friends. And if those rumors Apple plans a Tile-like Find My product turn out true, you’ll be able to keep an eye on any of your tagged objects using Siri on your Mac – particularly useful if someone steals your car as you’ll be able to follow it on the map while speaking with law enforcement,

There’s lots more

Siri can do lots more on your Mac. To find out what, just press and hold Command-H and ask, “What can you do?”. You’ll be presented with an extensive list, which grows each time Siri gets new features.

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Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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